One of the privileges I have in my job is to come alongside college freshman women who are interested in exploring spirituality/their beliefs and those who are desiring to take their next steps with God. A couple weeks ago one girl asked the group, “Does it seem hard to anyone else to live out all of the things that God asks of us?”
It pulled on some heart-strings because I felt this a lot when I was beginning my walk with God. (And honestly, at times still ask this question!)
All the girls were thinking about it, looking around to each other for the thoughts of the person next to them until all their eyes ended up on me. Truthfully, I didn’t think much about what I was saying until I responded, “Of course, it’s impossible if we try to do it on our own.”
“The Christian life is so simple that we stumble over the very simplicity of it, and yet it is so difficult that no one can live it.”
This was said by the founder of the organization that I work for, and I love it because I often feel the tension of this truth on a daily basis. Have you felt this way? Burnt out, not satisfied, and feeling like it’s impossible to live out this Christian life?
If so, I have some great news for you. You aren’t alone: The apostle Paul talks about this and is very frustrated about his inability to live obediently in Romans 7:14-20. “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
Most importantly, God has given us the solution to this problem. First, it was by sending His Son Jesus to live the life that we couldn’t by obeying the law perfectly and dying the death we deserved for our sins. The second way He solved the problem was giving us His Spirit to enable us to live a life that’s pleasing to God.
The Spirit is the third person of the trinity who comes to live in us (1 John 4:13). He isn’t an impersonal force or warm feelings inside of us, but a person, equal in every way with The Father and The Son.
The reality is, if you’re a follower of Jesus and have Him in your life, you already have The Spirit in you. That’s an amazing thing! Still, we aren’t always filled or empowered with The Spirit. Similarly to chocolate syrup poured in a glass of milk, it will just sit at the bottom unless you stir it up.
We don’t have to jump through any hoops or beg to be filled and directed by His Spirit. But it is by faith that we must genuinely need to desire to be filled (John 7:37-39). We must also turn away from sin and yield our lives to Christ. It was never about us needing more of The Holy Spirit, but it’s the Spirit that needs more of us. fe
But, there are times where I did experience this moment-by-moment reliance on God and the power of The Holy Spirit at work in my life. It’s exhilarating and exciting to think about living a life that is following after Jesus by relying on His power and living in light of God’s glory and grace in and throughout our lives.
“You might as well try to see without eyes, hear without ears, or breathe without lungs, as to try to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit.” – D.L. Moody